Thursday, July 11, 2019 4:33 PM EST
By CHRIS EHRMANN, AP
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A black prison employee is suing the Connecticut Department of Correction, alleging she was suspended without pay for complaining about a corrections officer who displayed a Confederate flag in his vehicle.
Carla Moore, a correctional identification records specialist at the Corrigan-Radgowski prison in Uncasville, claims in a federal lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court that she was disciplined for complaining about the display of a flag near the entrance to the prison.
The lawsuit alleges that for an extended period of time, the officer was permitted to park his vehicle in a location not usually allowed for institutional employees and adjacent to a building entrance where an American flag was flown.
The vehicle was always parked so that it prominently displayed the flag to anyone entering, the lawsuit said.
New Haven Attorney John Williams, who is representing Moore, said the car was parked there continuously for the "better part of a year" in 2018, when she made her first complaint to her supervisor last November. The lawsuit said she was worried it was becoming a "permanent fixture."
That's when Moore alleges in her lawsuit she went to her superiors and was confronted by a white supervisor who approached her "in a physically threatening manner, screaming and pointing at her."
Williams said that Moore followed up with a written complaint sent to superiors last December and that "they punished her for it" by suspending her for a day without pay a month later in January 2019.
A spokesperson for the Connecticut Department of Correction wrote in an email that the agency is aware of the lawsuit but cannot comment on active litigation.
The lawsuit said she had been working there for about 25 years and had never had a poor job evaluation.
"The very idea that an agency which has physical custody and day-to-day, minute-by-minute control over the large population, predominantly people of color, would be allowed to endorse a (Confederate) flag," Williams said. "What kind of message does that send to the inmates, to the families of inmates?"
Chris Ehrmann is a corps member for Report for America , a nonprofit organization that supports local news coverage, in a partnership with The Associated Press for Connecticut. The AP is solely responsible for all content.